Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Black Corsair Assassin Bug


Black Corsair (Melanolestes picipes) -- Male

An assassin bug (Family: Reduviidae) that preys upon other insects and is found throughout much of North America, particularly the northeast, central, southern United States. Males are fully winged and can often be seen out and about during the spring, presumably searching for females. (This one was attracted through my open basement door and into my shop.) During mating, the spongy pads on the males' forelegs are used to help mount females. The pads are also said to aid in capturing prey.

Females corsairs have stunted, non-functional wings. They hunt under rocks, logs, and fallen leaves for ground-dwelling prey like caterpillars, crickets, and earthworms. Adults overwinter under logs, in piles of weeds, etc. (See Swamp Thing for a photo of a female Black Corsair.)

In general, assassin bugs have elongated heads and short, stout, curved proboscises. (Plant-feeding bugs tend to have longer, thinner and straighter proboscises which they hold against the underside of their bodies when not in use.) Assassin bugs feed by thrusting their proboscises forward and into the body of their prey. After injecting saliva to paralyze the prey, assassin bugs suck out the body fluids.

Jo can attest to the fact that an assassin bugs can and will thrust its proboscis into human flesh. A few yeas back an assassin bug accidentally ended up in our house and Jo attempted to return it outdoors. The bug failed to appreciate the her kindness and administered a bite. Jo said it hurt -- a lot.



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9 comments:

swamp4me said...

Thanks, Marvin. Great information. I was not familiar with the male.

smilnsigh said...

Nasty buggie! Bite the hand which was trying to take care of it. Grrrr....

Mari-Nanci
Photos-City-Mine
Smilnsigh

Old Wom Tigley said...

Fantastic info and two great shots here.. not sure if I'd like to meet one.

AphotoAday said...

Great shots and interesting information.   It is amazing how good you manage to get everything important into focus.

Abraham Lincoln said...

I wonder what we were thinking, Marvin. I found a different looking assassin bug yesterday and was going to post it but saved it for another day. I like your macro shots of these. Nice work.

calevphoto said...

I've heard that these can hurt a lot. I find it rather amusing that as a kid I picked up all types of bugs, and now realize that a good number of them out there have rather painful bites.

Lana Gramlich said...

Black Corsair assassin bug...It just sounds so evil!

Ted M. said...

I'll never forget my first experience with one of these - I was taking my first Ento class in college, it was spring and we needed to make a collection. One of these flew into the restaurant where I was working, and instinctively I grabbed it (another family, yeah! OWWW!). I let go pretty quick and was shaking my hand for several minutes. I'd never experienced that painful a bug bite.

I still went ahead and majored in Ento!

Anonymous said...

I was just bit by one as well and YES it was painful. Swelled up like a dime size mosquito bite and felt like a bee sting when It got me. Pain lasted 10-15min and then mild discomfort lingered for a few hours. Don't want that to happen again anytime soon. I still have the red bite mark on my foot where it got me....5 days ago.